“ To be happy in this world, especially when youth is past, it is necessary to feel oneself not merely an isolated individual whose day will soon be over, but part of the stream of life flowing on from the first germ to the remote and unknown future.”
Have you ever wanted to simplify things? Do you sometimes wonder about the simplest path to well-being? Does happiness ever feel elusive or just out of reach?
Everyone has a different version of their “happy place.” And we all face similar challenges navigating this modern world of technology along with the timeless dance of interpersonal relationships. Your circumstances and situations are totally unique, yet you share the commonality of human experience with every other person on earth.
One of the hardest things to do as we journey through life is to accept responsibility and face the fact that we create our own reality and are accountable for our own experience of it at every moment.
Personally, I can think back on some times in my life when I was absolutely miserable. There were years where I longed for connection and let bad habits fill the void. There were times when I settled for soul-killing relationships, selling myself short for some misplaced ideal. I’ve worked hard at things that were bereft of meaning, only to wonder why my life seemed to be going down the drain.
You’ve probably had tougher times than what you’re going through right now. Maybe you are on top of the world, or perhaps you’ve finally hit bottom. If you are breathing and reading this, you are somewhere on the spiral of consciousness, and hopefully moving up. You are precisely where you are meant to be in this moment.
Today I shared an interesting article about neuroscience and happiness on our Conscious Dancer Facebook Page. In it the writer talks about four rituals that have been scientifically proven to enhance happiness. I added a fifth one in my comment that I will list here last.
First is the practice of gratitude. The ritual is to ask yourself the question “What am I grateful for?” especially in challenging moments. Gratitude boosts both dopamine and serotonin, and creates a positive feedback loop in your relationships. And it’s more about the act of searching for things to be grateful for than anything, just training your mind to look is the key.
Second is the habit labeling negative feelings. Suppressing or trying to ignore vague feelings of awfulness always back fires. But naming and recognizing emotions reduces their impact, something that teachers of mindfulness and meditation have been saying for millennia.
Third is the ability to make decisions. Making a choice allows our brains to relax, reducing worry and anxiety. And this is where it’s helpful to remember that “perfection is the enemy of excellence” because you just need to make good enough decisions to keep moving forward. When you’re decisive your brain feels in control, and this includes setting goals and intentions as well.
Fourth comes hugs. Simply connecting with other people with touch is a powerful ritual for well being. It’s one of the primary ways to release the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala, our primitive hind-brain. Activating the oxytocin system also decreases the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone in your system.
UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb puts it this way:“Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning. Focus and planning help with decision making. Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment also makes it more likely you’ll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier.
And to all of this, I say that there is a fifth practice that you probably already know, which in some ways can encompass all four rituals at once. Conscious dance or embodied movement is a somatic umbrella that you can activate at any time to engage any or all of these rituals at once.
There’s no better time to ask yourself what you’re grateful for, to label emotions as they move through you, and make those difficult decisions than when your soul is in motion and your body is free in a dance. And if your dance includes contact with a partner, so much the better, hugs after the dance count too.
So activate your upward spiral of consciousness with a happiness enhancing feedback loop. Inertia is the key to keeping your mojo in motion, so whenever you start to slump, find it in yourself to pump up your neurotransmitters with some embodied rituals and make the most of your moments with love, kindness and joy.
Shining the light with you till next week!
Dance First Member Spotlight – Vangelis Legakis and Embodied Unity
Today’s Dance First spotlight is shining on a member who is leading you to a rare isle of paradise for a deep dive into eco-somatic bliss.
Vangelis Legakis is a UK-based teacher of a practice calledEmbodied Unity. He is a producer, choreographer, dance artist and therapist specializing in integrating the philosophies of yoga and chi gong within dance.
You have a special opportunity to join him and co-facilitator Horacio Macuacua on the Spanish island of Tenerife later this month, fromAugust 21 to Sept 2nd for the 3rd Annual Dance and Nature Project. This immersion is designed to integrate dance with the 5 elements from the Chi Gong tradition – wood, fire, earth, metal, and water
You’ll reside at the beautiful Eco-Village Manantial De Tara and focus on research and development of solo dance, Flying Low and Passing Through, Contact Improvisation integrating energy work, shamanic and ritual practices, Yoga, Chi Gong and the 5 elements.
You will travel the island to dance at the volcano and the sea to integrate the elements from the nature into dance and life. The research and development modules will lead to solo productions to be presented at the Teatro Victoria in Santa Cruz on the 1st & 2nd of September.
Vangelis is a leader to watch, having graduated from Laban Center in London, UK with BA in Dance Theatre and MA in Choreography. He also holds a Masters in Buddhist Studies from Hong Kong University, as well as Master’s levels Reiki certifications from Morley College in London.
With expertise in the fields of Reflexology, Neuro-skeletal Re-Alignment, Deep Tissue, Thai, and Holistic Massage, Divine Healing Therapy, Kundalini Yoga, Integrative Biodynamic CranioSacral Therapy, Thanatology, Abdominal Massage and Tsi Nei Tsang he brings a wealth of experience in the realms of embodiment to his teaching.
Having studied with luminaries including Mantak Chia, Tew Bunnag, Swami Vivekananda Saraswati, Mahasattva Ananda Sarita, David Zambrano, Karta Singh, Marika Bolsfeldt, Mike Tan, Dr. Ahlmeirah Ariel Hallaire, Rosemary Wallace, Felicity Joy, and Khun Ni, he brings a depth of knowledge that is diverse and unique.
He’s a well-loved and energetic global organizer of events such as the International Interdisciplinary NO BORDERS Project that takes place each year during December in a different country and city; theDance and Martial Arts Festival in Lijiang, China; Dance and Being Arts Project in Melbourne, Australia; Dance and Nature Project in Tenerife, Spain; IntegrO Dance Beyond Project in Chiang Mai, Thailand; the Hong Kong International Collective Artists in Residency for Opportunities and Sustainability, (HKICAROS); the Hong Kong International Choreography Festival, (HKICF); and Unity Space – Artists in Residency in Melbourne, Australia.
Make plans to join Vangelis in Tenerife or at one of his many other international events. His projects are more than workshops, they are laboratories of human development that blend dance, spirituality and healing practices to raise embodied consciousness around the world.
Thank you so much Vangelis for all your hard work and leadership in the field of conscious dance and embodiment! Folks like you are exactly why we created the Dance First Association, proud to serve the leaders who are carrying the torch and building the movement around the world!
3rd Annual Dance and Nature Project with Vangelis Legakis & Horacio Macuacua
Aug 21 – Sept 2, Tenerife Island, Spain